I’m not a domestic diva by any means. I love the smell of clean laundry but I hate to fold it and put it away. Oh how I wish there was a machine that would just magically take care of it! I can’t bake to save my life. Too many measurements and too much precision.
But I can COOK!
I love to cook! My mom was a great cook as was my grandmother and my aunts. I grew up in a family that loved big family dinners and get-togethers. Nothing made my grandmother happier than cooking up a feast for her family. Those are some of my favorite memories growing up. Nowadays, I find myself always channeling these wonderful women as I cook. But let’s face it, with three boys, work, sports and all of the other busyness of life, I need shortcuts in order to avoid the convenience of the drive-thru. It is not always the healthiest option and can really add up pounds and pennies.
So I have some cooking hacks or short cuts to help me get dinner on the table in a jiffy.
I don’t know why I use to think that frozen veggies weren’t as good and then I learned that frozen vegetables are picked and flash frozen immediately. I used to buy a head of broccoli for example and often times ended up not using it and there it went spoiled, sad and unused. Frozen veggies are a lifesaver and can be easily added or um….hid for those picky eaters in a myriad of places.
Making a stew? Add some frozen veggies.
Soup? Add some frozen veggies.
Need a side dish? That Normandy blend goes straight out of the bag, add a little EVOO, salt, pepper and voila! Healthy side dish in minutes.
Nuke it in the Microwave
One of my favorite side dishes is roasted potatoes or roasted sweet potatoes. Add a little garlic and rosemary, salt and pepper, and you have a flavorful filling of healthy carbs. But who has time to wait around 45 minutes to an hour for them to be ready.
My trick here is to nuke the potatoes in the microwave for 4 to 5 minutes before putting them in the oven. This little step is a time and dinner saver!
Y’all I love spices. I stand in front of the spice aisle at the supermarket and start thinking about all of the wonderful things I could make and the different flavors I could add with these little trinkets. Trader Joes is a great place to find neat spices at affordable prices. Remember that time I told y’all about how much I love TJ’s? I still love them! If you missed it, you can read it here. When in a pinch though…see what I did there…a cooking pinch and you don’t want to peel, crush, or smash that garlic …use garlic powder. That’s it. Garlic powder is such a wonderful hack. Add a pinch or be generous and let your tastebuds be happy.
The Instant Pot
This genius invention is a life and time saver for me, especially on those afternoons where one kid has soccer practice, the other has basketball and the third has swim. I have to admit that I was a little hesitant at first to purchase an Instant Pot because all of the hearsay was just too good to be true! Could this miracle cooking machine save me from my lack of meal preparation?
But I bought in on a whim at a Target sale. I didn’t get the biggest one because I figured if it doesn’t live up to the hype I won’t feel too bad.
Well, the Instant Pot has lived up to the hype for me and I use it multiple times a week! I love it because I can sauté, pressure cook or slow cook a variety of foods. One of my favorite things to cook in it is Spaghetti and Meat Sauce. I can have a dinner that my kids will actually devour on the table in less than 30 minutes. There are so many Instant Pot online communities where you can get recipes and ideas on what to cook. I’ll use mine to cook rice (which I love because I can walk away and not worry about it burning or sticking), beans, stews, soups, curry, meats….SO many things. Did I mention that you can even use it to cook frozen meats? Delicious and Quick…key word quick!
Meals that Keep on Giving
Every so often I’ll cook foods that we can eat in a variety of different ways. For example, I’ll cook a pork loin or chicken thighs in the crock pot or instant pot and shred it. We can eat it over salad, over rice, as a taco, stuffed in a bell pepper, with veggies….add a little cheese or a little salsa or why not both. The possibilities are endless!
One of my favorite “meals that keep on giving” is somewhat of a southwest chicken ensemble. I initially used a recipe similar to this one but I tweak it here and there. For example, I make my own seasoning with salt, pepper, cumin, garlic and paprika. I also use the Salsa Especial from Trader Joes.
I hope that these hacks will save you time in the kitchen and help you create delicious meals for your family! Do you have a great cooking hack? I’d love to know…remember sharing is caring!